Bugatti has become the first production car manufacturer to break the 300mph limit.
A specially prepared prototype version of the Bugatti Chiron set a jaw-dropping new record of 304.773 mph at parent company Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien testing ground on Sunday.
Its new record speed puts clear air between it and the Koenigsegg Agera RS which achieved 277.87mph in 2017, and leaves the 270mph Hennessey Venom F5 and 256mph SSC Tuatara in the dust.
It’s also a big jump from the self-imposed 261mph limit, which Bugatti previously said was determined by the limits of what tyres could withstand.
The landmark speed was achieved by veteran racing driver and Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace who has previously set production car speed records with the Jaguar XJ220 and McLaren F1.
The Chiron isn’t technically the first “road car” to top 300mph – a heavily modified Ford GT did that last year – but it’s the first car from a production manufacturer rather than a tuning house to do so.
That’s not to say this Chiron is a standard production car.
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A team of engineers from Bugatti, chassis legends Dallara and tyre maker Michelin spent six months poring over the Chiron and modifying it to be capable of reaching 300mph and beyond.
For a start, it’s 25cm longer than the “regular” Chiron hypercar, with a reshaped rear end. The tail cross-section is small to improve stability and the active rear wing-cum-brake has been ditched in favour of a fixed unit to reduce drag and save weight. Four exhausts in an over-under configuration are designed to project gases further away to reduce their effect on drag and at the front a bigger grille and vents suck in more air to cool the engine.
The 8.0-litre, W16 quad-turbo engine itself has been upgraded from the standard 1,479bhp to 1,578bhp but still drives the car through the production version’s seven-speed gearbox and four-wheel-drive system.
Bugatti is calling this particular car a “near-production derivative” of the Chiron, suggesting that a special edition based on this record-breaker will see the light of day.
It’s unlikely to feature the stripped-out single-seat interior or roll-cage but is likely to get the mechanical upgrades.
While other car makers will now be scrambling to try and catch up Bugatti boss Stephan Winkelmann has said that it won’t be defending its title, content to know Bugatti was the first to breach 300mph and will be remembered for that.